With the rise of our homegrown fizz making such a big splash, our very own globe-trotting Chef Editor, who is also the Ambassador for The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships takes a global look at the Sparkling Wine industry. The use of the term Non Vintage, pricing, the disregard for Cava and MCC, the rise of ‘new’ countries like India and China, and where Champagne sits… all this and much more in an insightful report from a man who used to drink Dom Perignon while his rugby teammates were drinking pints.
If you are heading to Prowein next week then you might want to get yourself there on time on the last day in order to hear leading wine critic and commentator, Tim Atkin MW, revisit for the first time the subject that helped him become a Master of Wine, and his dissertation on the intricacies of Hungary’s iconic wine region, Tokaj. Here Atkin shares just what it was – and is – that has enchanted him so much over the years.
Although we in the trade know of four distinct styles of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, customers are less aware, even though they definitely know what they like and what they don’t like. A recent study supported by the Institute of Masters of Wine that is a collaboration between Saint Clair Family Estate and yeast producer Lallemand makes for fascinating reading. Wine expert Jamie Goode, who took part in the research, argues that the report is far from conclusive but does give winemakers and everyone in the trade a revealing look at what styles of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc customers prefer and why.
The New Zealand wine industry has been dominated by the global phenomenon of their zingy, tropical fruit-heavy Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs for decades. On a recent trip around New Zealand’s wine regions, The Buyer’s Mike Turner discovered why it’s time that other grapes and regions in this beautiful country take centre stage, and none more so than the wonderful Syrahs coming out of Hawke’s Bay.
Hands up if you have been to wine competition’s awards evening where the majority of people are in jeans, you’ve got a northern comedian pulling it all together, and there are pizzas galore to tuck into? Welcome to the People’s Choice Wine Awards which saw winemakers, producers, retailers and suppliers all rewarded for their efforts thanks to the votes of the average consumer who buys their wines. It’s such a welcome, refreshing new arrival on the awards calendar that it can only go from strength to strength. Richard Siddle puts down his margherita to share his memories of a great night.
At the recent Maison Marques et Domaines portfolio tasting in London, senior winemaker at Delas Frères, Claire Darnaud unveiled a new Hermitage cuvée not yet commercially released. As a matter of urgency, The Buyer sent its intrepid Rhône specialist Bart Feys to sample this latest expression from the fabled Hermitage hill and to ponder the virtues of single site versus blended Hermitage.
As co-founder of the hugely influential Italian wine body the Gambero Rosso, Daniele Cernilli has been a major player in the Italian wine scene for over 40 years. With the publication of the new edition of his definitive Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2019, Daniele, aka Doctor Wine, explains how Italian wine has changed over the last few decades, where it is headed and which are the Italian regions and wines that are a must for us to discover this year.
If you didn’t know that Burnley Miners’ Social Club is the world’s largest consumer of Bénédictine, then you obviously haven’t read That’s the Spirit! the latest book by Jonathan Ray, the drinks editor for The Spectator. In the book Ray looks at how some of the world’s most famous spirits brands came into being but also sheds some light on some of the more obscure beverages such as Tuaca, Bobby’s Schiedam Jenever, Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin and Spirit of Hven Organic Summer Spirit – and also throws in some obscure morsels like the ‘Burnley Benedictine conundrum’ and how it came into being.
Hundreds of delegates gathered in Marseille for the 5th annual International Rosé Symposium. Celebrating sales success, the industry is dominated by Provence with its world-famous light pink wines, but there are clouds on the horizon, with climate change and water shortages forcing producers to embrace change, as David Kermode reports.
Three years after its inaugural international conference to celebrate its staple grape, Sauvignon Blanc, the New Zealand Wine initiative Sauvignon 2019 opened yesterday in Blenheim with two contrasting views as to the direction of its future – should it ape the Champagne model of blending with added single site expressions or look to Rioja or the Rhône for its inspiration?
As a younger wine drinking generation starts to move away from the wines their parents used to drink – in the search for quality and value – so the wines of the New Old World like Hungary and Bulgaria, plus wines from new emerging regions such as India and Uruguay, are ready to take up the slack. Justin Keay, a specialist in these ‘Grape Unknown’ wines, argues that it is not only the UK on-trade that is already benefitting but also the larger importers who are muscling in on the trend – indicating that this is going to be more than just a passing fad.
Flavours of New Zealand, the trade and consumer showcase for New Zealand wine, picked Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago as three key focal regions – with organisers New Zealand Winegrowers keen to stress that New Zealand wine is no ‘one-trick’ pony. The events held in both London and Dublin demonstrated that New Zealand is a wine-producing country that is both diverse in region and varietal – and is capable of far more than producing one style of Sauvignon Blanc. Peter Dean reports.
Launching a new drinks brand can be hard: identifying a need in the market, and meeting it with a product that fills a gap to the right demographic… then it’s matching the branding to the proposition. And that’s just for starters. For drinks inventor David Gluckman, the man who put The Singleton and Baileys on the map, a new drinks brand cannot be all things to all people, it needs an edge – something that eliminates a large part of the population to focus a clearly-defined offering on a select few. That’s brave and that’s what will ultimately make a successful new brand… that sells.
Chinese restaurants are not incentivised to take a chance on new Chinese wines – because near zero historical demand means they are more interested in improving their crispy duck recipe than their wine list. That, combined with massive domestic consumption, and the difficulty of competing price-wise with the rest of the world has meant that we in the West know little or nothing about Chinese wine. Author Janet Wang hopes to change all that with her new book The Chinese Wine Renaissance, that explains why the Chinese wine industry has to be seen in its cultural context. Wang also picks her top 6 Chinese wines available in the UK and which are the top producers for us to keep an eye on.
Paul Mabray is one of the most important and influential voices we have in the wine and drinks industry. Primarily because he stands with one foot firmly outside the sector as a technology and consumer trends expert looking to offer services and solutions as an observer and analyst of what is going in the wine industry rather than be involved in producing or directly selling any wine himself. Here is his take on what the big challenges and opportunities facing all those in the wine and drinks sectors are in 2019 and why being able to sell directly to consumers at home is going to be the real game changer.
A new winemaking style, new cuvees, new brand marketing, a new look, new HQ, new faces – there is hardly anything about Nicolas Feuillatte that has stayed the same in recent months. Number one Champagne brand in France, number three in the world and unbelievably a company that is still only 40 years old, Peter Dean was granted a rare audience with the key movers and shakers who are set to make a significant impact on the UK on-trade
After the big structure of the reds in 2015 and 2016, Burgundy 2017 will be noted for the round, silky tannins of the Pinots, the fact that producers didn’t over-crop and that, after a couple of warmer vintages, 2017 was a return to a more classic style of red Burgundy. The whites – from Chablis to the Côte d’Or – have a nice balance between ripeness and tension. Here’s Bibendum’s wine buyer Robert Mathias’ take on the 2017 vintage.
Finally Burgundy gets a bit of good fortune with a new vintage that is good in both quality and quantity. Corney & Barrow’s Burgundy buyer Guy Seddon talks through how the 2017 vintage developed over the year for all the producers whose wines they are offering in this new release. He also highlights two trends – how a lightness of touch is the watchword for tannin extraction in red wines, and also the greater proliferation of whole bunch, or whole-cluster vinification for reds in 2017.
Although Chablis was hit by frost again and Beaujolais suffered bad weather in a number of appelations, Burgundy in 2017 got away pretty much scot-free weather-wise. To make matters even better volumes ranged from normal to generous and the quality is looking promising particularly with the whites. But it could all have been so different. For some producers another weather-ravaged harvest could have meant curtains. Thankfully 2017 has been followed by a bumper harvest in 2018 so finally we can all start getting our hands on Burgundy again – and there is no sign of any price increases… just yet!
When it comes to knowledge about Burgundy, especially in a commercial context, there are few if any higher authorities than Jasper Morris MW. His annual report which you can find on Inside Burgundy.com is the bible for many wine buyers. In an exclusive extract Morris gives wine buyers the lowdown on Burgundy 2017, a vintage that has seen volumes come back to near normal at no expense of quality. With both red and whites, Morris lays out his buying strategy, looks at the sweet spots with both and when he feels the wines will be drinking best.